The Week in Early American History

TWEAHWelcome to your weekly roundup of early American history headlines. Now that you’ve aced your presidential history knowledge,  and reviewed this reading list of their lives, it’s on to the links! Continue reading

Guest Post: “Libraries in the Atlantic World” Conference Recap

Today’s guest poster, Aaron M. Brunmeier, recaps the recent conference in Liverpool, England. He is a Ph.D. student at Loyola University-Chicago, where he studies print culture, gender, and the public sphere in revolutionary New York City. He is the social media assistant for the Community Libraries Network.

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Last week, I finished my minor field exams, lesson-planned for my substitute teacher, and then hopped on a plane headed toward Liverpool for a conference on library history. It was the first of three colloquia organized by the Community Libraries Network and funded by the AHRC. This colloquium, “Libraries in the Atlantic World,” brought scholars of different disciplines from all around the world to share their research and discuss the newest trends in the field at the University of Liverpool, 24-25 Jan. 2014.

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Archiving Abolition

wedgwood2Today, we chat about making digital history with Lauren Klein, Assistant Professor in the School of Literature, Media, and Communication at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Her writing has appeared in Early American Literature and American Quarterly, with a piece forthcoming in 2014 in American Literature. She is currently at work on two book projects: the first on the relationship between eating and aesthetics in the early republic, and a second that provides a cultural history of data visualization from the eighteenth century to the present.   Continue reading

The New Old Revolutionaries

It’s often said that we tell old stories to get new ones, a truth self-evident in my favorite of Pauline Maier’s many works, The Old Revolutionaries: Political Lives in the Age of Samuel Adams (1980). And everything I admire about her as a scholar rolls in with the first lines of that barefaced preface: “Let me confess at the outset that this book, though it answers some questions of the sort historians are trained to ask, has also been—and was meant from the outset to be—a personal adventure. I wanted to know better what it was to be an American of the late eighteenth century and to live through the American Revolution” (xiii). Maier’s prosopography of five men and their “worlds,” accentuated by a thoughtful “interlude” on the rigors of political life in the colonies, marked a change in how historians used individual biographies to retell the Revolution to post-bicentennial Americans. First given as a series of lectures at New York University in 1976, the essays gather a fairly random matrix of people for a group shot of colonial life: Samuel Adams, Isaac Sears, Dr. Thomas Young, Richard Henry Lee, and Charles Carroll. Few had appeared in solo biographies, and if they did, it was often in fairly dim light. In fewer than 300 pages, Maier promised to deliver the story of “not just why Americans made the Revolution, but what the Revolution did to them.” How to get at it? Continue reading

Guest Post: Introducing “The American Yawp”

Today’s guest post comes from Ben Wright, a doctoral candidate at Rice University, who focuses on religious conversion and early American antislavery. He is the co-editor of Apocalypse and the Millennium in the Era of the American Civil War (LSU, 2013), the editor of the Teaching United States History blog, and co-editor of The American Yawp.

Screen Shot 2013-10-18 at 8.09.18 AMLike many of you, I find myself teaching the first half of the U.S. history survey this fall. The first few times through the course, I used a textbook and appreciated the clear organizational structure and built-in pacing. Teaching with a textbook felt like teaching with training wheels, and I certainly needed them for my first few laps. But as my confidence grew, so did my desire to assign primary sources, articles, monographs, museum catalogs, and other readings. While I am impressed with the quality of many texts – Eric Foner’s Give Me Liberty, and Kevin Schultz’s HIST are among my favorites – I cannot justify assigning an (often outrageously) expensive textbook if it is not going to be the cornerstone of my course. But my course evaluations often include requests for textbooks, particularly among athletes or other students with serial absences. I have tried placing a textbook on reserve, but in the three semesters of doing so, no one has ever checked out the book. It seems like our discipline could use an affordable, synthetic safety net for students who would like one. Continue reading